“I recently spoke to a member of staff at IDAS about an expected rise in domestic abuse cases as people are forced into self-isolation, cut off from family and friends, facing work and financial pressures, kids at home all day etc. And it really worried me that at the same time this potential pressure cooker is switched on, the services that exist to support those people are also facing their own challenges – lack of face to face contact, reduction in services, staff juggling childcare and service provision. In these unprecedented times, I spoke asked IDAS about their advice to keep people safe.”
IDAS are the leading specialist domestic abuse service in Yorkshire. Last year they received over 14,000 calls to their helpline and supported over 7,000 people. They are an independent charity, reliant on the support of generous donors, fundraisers and volunteers. They work to serve our communities, keeping people safe from violence and abuse. In response to the current crisis, they are working quickly to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances and to do everything they can to keep their refuges and helplines open.
“We are determined to keep our refuges and helplines open”
IDAS support anyone affected by domestic abuse, providing lifesaving support including refuge accommodation, outreach services and a helpline. As a result of the latest advice from government, many of our teams will need to work differently and in response we are developing new ways to support people affected by abuse. We are determined to keep our refuges and helplines running in these immensely difficult times and will also provide support through:
- Online video support sessions
- WhatsApp messaging
- Telephone calls
- Online live chat on their website
For many people who are afraid of their partner and may be faced with being isolated with them for long periods of time, this is an additional risk factor. They may also be receiving misinformation from the abuser that help is not available should they need support.
Sarah Hill, CEO of IDAS said,
“We are really worried about the risks of people being isolated with abusive people whose behaviour may escalate due to increasing uncertainty, pressure on finances and cramped conditions. Many people who face controlling, violent or abusive behaviour from a partner or family member are likely to be feeling very scared about being isolated with them for long periods of time. We want them to know that there is support available. Over the next few months, we will work creatively and flexibly to provide vital services in very difficult circumstances. We are immensely proud of our teams who are pulling together during this difficult time to ensure that there is a way for people to get help if they are afraid of their partner or concerned for someone they know.”
What can you do?
IDAS provides the following advice for friends, neighbours or family members concerned about someone they know:
- Check in with them regularly, if it is safe to do so
- Ask if there is anything that you can look out for that might indicate they need help
- Set up a safe word to indicate that help is needed
- Call the Police if you hear or see anything that could indicate a potential risk
- Look at the safety planning advice on our website
If you are facing isolation with an abusive person, IDAS offer some safety planning advice on their website. In addition, you could consider the following:
- Get a spare phone and store emergency contact numbers in it and hide it in a safe place or with a trusted person
- Keep your ID documents, emergency funds, bank cards and children’s birth certificates to hand
- Speak to your neighbours and ask them to ring the police if they hear or see anything
- Set up safe words with friends so they know to call for help on your behalf
- Plan to check in with people regularly so that they can raise the alarm if they don’t hear from you
- Plan to escape to the garden or to a room that you can exit from easily if abusive behaviour escalates
- Avoid rooms where there could be weapons if the abusive behaviour escalates
For more information please visit our website, call or email IDAS.
If you can support us with even a small donation we would be very grateful https://www.justgiving.com/IDAS